There's something about welcoming people into your home, isn't there?
Maybe it's why Scripture speaks so much about hospitality; the act of opening our doors and sitting across tables from each other inspires openness, conversation, dialogue. It urges us into community, which may be the ultimate goal of the gospel, if we think about it.
In Tallahassee, we opened our doors all the time. It was a decision we made, and at first, I thought it was one we made as our homes got a little larger. The bigger the home, the more room for parties, for people. But looking back, we hosted gatherings in our 650 square foot apartment, too. That tiny upstairs loft (and that's being generous) hosted a new year's eve party and launched a life-changing book club.
I guess, then, size really doesn't matter.
Now we're in a new town, with new faces, and it's scarier to open our doors. I'm not sure why that is. Tallahassee was new to Jordan, but it wasn't new to me. And maybe there's something to be said for a town that feels like home, even when the people aren't as familiar. We opened our doors in Tallahassee, and I'd like to think we made lifelong friends because of our decision to embrace community, to throw parties and eat dinners together.
In Thomasville, it's trickier business. This town is new; we are new. And yet, the desire is there. Hospitality breeds hospitality, and it's in my blood now. Introvert or not, I love gathering people together under my roof. I love throwing the door open and greeting friendly faces. Mostly, I love watching the people I love interact with each other. It's special, and it's something unique, I think, to gathering in a familiar, comfortable place.
Allowing people into my home also feels very much like being known. This is the place where I belong. It is the place where my head sleeps every night, where Jordan and I laugh at each other and argue with each other and clean up after each other. It is the place where my books reside peacefully, scattered among different shelves. It's the place where our wedding pictures are, where our honeymoon postcards hang, where frames and chalkboards are filled with quotes we love. It's the place where my grandmother's table is, where rooms hold Jordan's grandfather's dresser, my hope chest, and the keys from when I locked myself in my grandparents' bathroom.
When I invite you into my home, I invite you to know me, to know Jordan, because this is where we are best. Don't be mistaken: It's not where we act the best. It's not where we're on our best behavior. But it is, without a doubt, the place we are most comfortable. We breathe sighs of relief when we cross the threshold. Our handiwork is here, and it is not always good, but it is ours.
And I realize, of course, that this all probably over-thinking things a bit. (Over-thinking is one of the things I do the very best.) I understand that it says a lot about my personality, my being, when I can dive paragraphs deep into an explanation about being home and being known. It's a wonder people ever come over here at all. The pressure!
The point is, I hosted a group of girls over at my house tonight. It's a Bible study group that's been meeting for a couple of weeks, and I love our home, and I think I could, maybe, love these people. It was time to open my doors.
So I did. And I wasn't too nervous about it. It's in my blood, remember? So I made homemade salsa, and I had Jordan pick up two bottles of wine from Trader Joe's. (He had to instruct me over speaker phone on how to open the bottles. Sometimes it's easy to forget I'm 28 years old.) I straightened the house and swept Junie's hair into various corners. But I didn't clean too much. I wanted these people to know this is home. It is lived in, and it is comfortable, and it is where I am best.
My guests probably really didn't care about any of this. (Guests usually don't care as much as we'd like to think they do.) But I think they felt comfortable, and they commented on the books and pictures, and I thought to myself, "Yes, this is me. You are getting to know me."
I have no idea what relationships this town holds for us. It's too soon to tell, I guess. I know it's shocking, but I seem to want everything right now, in this moment. I have to keep telling myself the words my aunt spoke to me a few months ago. "You don't just meet old friends." And she's right.
Old friends come with time and effort and heartache and joy. Those friendships take, for me, years to create, and it would be silly to think I could find them in six weeks' time.
But opening my door, inviting people into my home, eating salsa, and talking about Jesus? That's a wonderful place to start.